Lucas Duda Provides the Fireworks

In case you didn’t know, Lucas Duda made sure you knew tonight was Fireworks Night. I told you Duda is awesome

His first homerun broke up the no-hitter. The second homerun let deGrom off the hook. deGrom deserved to be let off the hook too. He didn’t have his best stuff, and he was fighting it all night. However, he gave the team six solid innings, allowed only two runs, and gave the team a chance to win. Duda took advantage of that chance. 

As if the two homers weren’t enough, Duda also doubled in Curtis Granderson in the eighth. In this inning, we saw the impact of Yoenis Cespedes’ presence in the lineup. After Granderson’s double and Daniel Murphy grounded out to the pitcher, Cespedes was intentionally walked. Before tonight there was no one in the Mets’ lineup who would’ve merited that. Instead of now feeling pressure to be the entire offense, Duda was able to relax and deliver . . . and boy did he deliver. 

After Hansel Robles shut the door in the right and Duda single-handedly carried the offense to a 3-2 lead, Jeurys Familia slammed the door shut in the ninth. This looked like the Familia of the first half. 

My only qualm tonight was the lineup. It looked like Terry Collins was still drunk from celebrating last night’s win and the Cespedes acquisition. I know we all love the Wilmer Flores’ story, but this is a pennant race, and you need to field your best team (even if he almost hit a HR). That team has an outfield alignment of Cespedes in left, Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Juan Lagares in center, and Granderson in right. The only time you want Kelly Johnson in RF right now is when he’s signing autographs before the game. 

Luckily, this didn’t hurt the Mets. Also, it was good to see Collins put in Lagares late for defense.   It was better to see Duda’s offense and Familia’ dominance again. It’s even better to be a game out with Noah Syndergaard tomorrow. Lets Go Mets!

More Homerun Please Daddy

Normally, when my son sees a television, he starts asking for Elmo. When you don’t acquiesce, he begins to become upset. As you don’t want to upset your child, you usually relent. 

Yesterday, I didn’t immediately relent. I just wanted to finish watching the highlights of the Wilmer Flores’ walk off homerun before putting in that little monster. Before my son could protest, he saw the ball leave Flores’ bat.  First, he let out a “Whoa!” when he saw it go over the left field wall. Then he yelled “Yay!” when he saw the Mets players and coaches celebrating. We shared a high five. 

Now, he wasn’t asking for Elmo. He was asking me to replay the homerun. Thank God for the Roku and You Tube. After each time we saw it, he would say “more homerun please daddy.”  We must’ve watched that homerun 15+ times in a row yesterday. 

Then I took out his Little Tykes’ baseball set. After he hit the ball off the tee (we alternate sides of the plate), he ran around the house screaming homerun!  Apparently, both 20 month olds and chicks dig the long all.  This went on seemingly forever, and I loved every minute of it. 

Last night during the game when everyone came up, he said, “homerun please!”  Lucas Duda was the only one who obliged. Although we missed the first one to bath time, he saw the second. He was excited. Remember, Duda is his favorite player

I used to be happy just because he showed an interest in the game. Now that he knows what a homerun is and he wants to see one is all the more awesome. The fact that he created the moment in our living room still astonishes me. While Duda’s two homeruns were key in the Mets’ win, my favorite homeruns yesterday were the ones hit in my living room. 

Mets Lost the Cespedes Trade

I know Yoenis Cespedes is a huge upgrade for the Mets. He provides power, speed, and good defense. However, unless the Mets win the World Series, this trade is a failure. 

Actually, no. This is a bad trade regardless of the outcome of the Mets season.  The reason why I say this is because Sandy Alderson had the leverage and he caved. 

Cespedes is a unique rental player because he has a clause in his contract that requires his team [the Tigers] to release him once his contract expires.  This prevents the Tigers from extending him a qualifying offer to receive draft pick compensation in the event he signs with another team. A player wants this to prevent what happened to Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales (even if Cespedes’ contract was signed prior to these holdouts). 

Now, because Cespedes would be a released player, as opposed to a free agent, the Tigers would only have five days after the World Series to sign him. If they cannot sign him within that time period, they lose the chance to sign him until after the season starts. 

Cespedes’ agent is Roc Nation, who also represents Robinson Cano and Rusney Castillo. Roc Nation has obtained deals that have been perceived as above the market. In both instances, Roc Nation really let the market develop and bid teams against one another. I know Cespedes wants to resign with the Tigers, but he’s not leaving money on the table. Keep in mind Robinson Cano wanted to remain a Yankee.

This is where it gets interesting. Dave Dombrowski was left with three options: 1) make no deals and try to get into the playoffs; 2) work out a deal now for Cespedes or 3) trade him and be in a better position to sign him in the offseason.  Once the Tigers traded David Price it confirmed they were selling. I’m sure Dombrowski inquired as to whether Cespedes would sign a deal, but I’m equally as sure Cespedes wants to test the market. That means Dombrowski HAD TO TRADE CESPEDES. If he didn’t, he risked losing him for nothing. 

Admittedly, Alderson was in a tough spot. The Carlos Gomez trade fell apart and things got ugly. Wilmer Flores was crying in the field. There were accusations the Mets really nixed the deal over finances. Then Gomez goes to the Astros, who have no problem with his hip. The fans and media were getting tense, if not angry. 

So, we’re left with one GM who must make a deal, and one GM that has pressure but isn’t required to make a deal. Sandy Alderson is the one who blinked. 

It seems all along Dombrowski “badly wanted” Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.  Fulmer was the Mets’ 2011 supplemental draft pick (#44 overall). Currently, he is Baseball America’s 98th best prospect. Reportedly, the Mets were willing to part with Zack Wheeler in the Gomez deal due to the emergence of Fulmer. Fulmer has a 96-97 MPH fastball with a good slider and good command of both sides of the plate. He has recently been compared to Matt Garza and Garrett Richards. This is another way of saying he’s a #2 starter with a real competitive streak. 

Cessa is a project. He’s converted to pitcher and he is developing his repertoire in AAA. He can throw 95 MPH and is working on his off speed stuff. As you can see, there may be promise here, but he’s probably a bullpen arm, at best. He’s not the player that haunts you in a deal like this. 

The player that haunts you is Fulmer, who has already been described as an “unbelievable get for a rental.”  Not just a rental, but a rental the Mets probably can’t resign (financial issues aside). I’ve seen the Mets and their fans argue Fulmer is not part of the Mets’ core talent, whatever that means. I’ve seen Fulmer described as not being one of the Mets top five prospects. So what?  You trade value for value. 

It’s funny. I don’t see these same people noting the Mets just gave the Tigers their 5th and 9th best prospects. I don’t think I would’ve been happy with just Fulmer in the deal. Keep in mind this is the Mets gave up for a rental.  In fact on Baseball Tonight, Keith Law stated the Mets gave up their two best pitching prospects left in the farm system. 
I understand you have to give value to get value. That’s why I initially supported the Gomez trade and like the proposed Jay Bruce deal (I also agreed with the Mets that once the Reds ask for more, you have to walk away). However, Cespedes had dwindling value to the Tigers. He was more valuable to them with another team at this time.

Frankly, Alderson either blinked, panicked, or didn’t judge his prospects properly. This is unacceptable when you have the leverage.  I think Cespedes is a great addition, but the Mets gave up way too much. I don’t see why the Mets are going all-in when:

  1. They are in second place to a healing Nationals’ team;
  2. They are behind the Pirates, Giants, and Cubs in the Wild Card race; and
  3. Their pitchers are nearing their innings limits.

This was not the season to go all-in. Sure, you try to improve, but you don’t give up trade assets you’ll need next year, when you’re presumably a better team, to take you to the next level. Also, keep in mind they went all-in without shoring up all of their holes. They still need a SS and a LOOGY. Plus, they’re still a healthy David Wright from being a good offense. Can we trust he’ll come back this year and produce like David Wright?  

I really hope they win the World Series because if they don’t, they took what could’ve been a year to build on to a complete failure. 

New Fan Favorite

After the Carlos Gomez trade fell through, I wrote how Wilmer Flores is a role model. We can add another title to that: fan favorite. 

Last night, he received four standing ovations. Each of them more deserving than the next. As Terry Collins’ noted, the fans picked him up. This was important because, as Matt Harvey noted, Flores has been through a lot. Naturally, his teammates were happy for him (as were the fans). Collins basically said everything that happened last night couldn’t have happened to a better man. 

Isn’t that great?  It’s fun rooting for good players. It’s nice to root for good guys. It’s incredible to root for both. While, I think the jury is out on whether Flores will become a good player, we know he will work at it. He deserves the fans admiration, and Mets’ fans know how to treat their favorites. For example, Mike Piazza received a curtain call as a visiting player. 

Today of all days, it’s important to root for the good guy. On the same morning as the Flores’ love fest, we discovered New York Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson was arrested while driving 143 MPH with a 12 year old in the backseat. Oh yeah, he also threw weed out the window. This comes off the heels of other disgusting NFL stories from Ray Rice to Greg Hardy. 

I’m not saying MLB and its players are perfect. By no means. I’m sure you can find several stories (like Tony LaRussa’s DWI). However, I don’t recall a MLB player with a domestic violence problem. I am saying that it is nice to watch a sport where the main focus is what is on the field more than what happens off of it. 

This is a reason why I lament the rise of the NFL. Now, I realize most NFL players are good guys. However, the sport is always dominated by negative news from “recreational” drug suspensions to steroid use to cheating scandals to domestic violence issues. I don’t want my son to be constantly exposed to that. 

I want to enjoy sports with my son. I want him to have role models. I don’t care what Charles Barkley said, children will always look up to their favorite players. I just wish more of this players were more like Wilmer Flores and less like Sheldon Richardson. 

Harvey is Real

It looks like the Mets made the biggest addition at the trade deadline this year. Yoenis Cespedes?  No. Travis d’Arnaud?  Nonsense. The Mets got Matt Harvey back. I don’t think Mets fans believed he was real anymore. 

Harvey is a 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy Stewart’s character is a grown man whose best friend is a 6’3″ invisible rabbit. Everyone thinks he’s crazy that he had seen this rabbit. A comparison for people more my age is Snuffleupagus. Anyway, I was starting to feel like Jimmy Stewart. 
For his part, Harvey thinks he finally put it all together in his last start. It showed tonight. He was perfect through 5.1 innings. He got out of a subsequent jam without letting up a run. In the seventh, there was some soft hits starting another rally. However, he got out of that jam when Juan Lagares reminded everyone he’s a terrific CF in chasing a ball down in the right center field gap. Overall, Lagares seemed to have an extra hop in his step tonight. It really showed in the field. 
The eighth inning was not kind to Harvey. There was a phantom HBP call, which was upheld by replay. Two singles later, and the score was tied at one. A good defensive SS (which the Mets ha no interest in at the trade deadline) would’ve at least knocked it down. 

Initially, Tyler Clippard came in and made Sandy Alderson look great by striking out Jayson Werth looking on a 3-2 count after a lengthy at bat (it wasn’t a strike). He then walked two batters in the ninth forcing Terry Collins to bring in Jeurys Familia, who got out of the inning. 

After the Gomez drama, we finally had a Wilmer Flores sighting. With Collins’ platoon system, he started on 2B, made a nice defensive play, and knocked in the first run that looked like it was going to hold up. He had received three standing ovations from the fans. Sorry make that FOUR with his walk-off homerun in the twelfth. You have to love and respect this kid. 

By the way, the platoon system was on acid today. With the lefty Gio Gonzalez starting, the Mets went with Wimer Flores at second, Juan Uribe at third, Juan Lagares in center, and Eric Campbell in left?!?!?  Furthermore, Daniek Murphy was at first because, why not?  

This was the biggest win of the year in the biggest series of the year. Because the Mets smartly set their rotation coming out of the All Star Break, they throw Jacob deGrom tomorrow and Noah Syndergaard on Sunday. Oh yeah, some guy named Yoenis Cespedes makes his debut for the Mets tomorrow. I heard he can hit the ball out in Citi Field

Time to get excited Mets fans. We have meaningful games in August. 

Put Me in Coach . . .

“Look at me, I can be Centerfield.”  That is about as fun as the baseball songs get. Another one of my favorites is “Talkin’ Baseball” with it’s famous refrain of “Willie, Mickey, the Duke.” As you can see, Centerfield is an important position with much history in New York City.  You always hear about those good old days of Willie, Mickey, and the Duke playing CF in New York City at the same time. That doesn’t seem fair or possible. The Yankees have had an absurd tradition with their centerfielders with Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. The Mets tradition hasn’t been as good, but then again whose has? However, we’ve had some fun names and good players come through and man centerfield in Flushing.

In 1969, the Mets had Tommie Agee, who for at least the 1969 World Series, was the best defensive CF to ever play the game: 

Unfortunately, the Mets did try Willie Mays out in CF in the last two years of his career. From what I’ve been told, it did not end well. Then there was fan favorite Lee Mazzilli, who played for some truly awful Mets teams. However, he was the star, if not the MVP, of of the 1979 All Star Game (back when the ASG meant something). Lee Mazzilli then gave way to Ron Darling. They would both win a World Series together with the Mets in 1986.

Speaking of 1986, the Mets had two other fan favorites who played CF: Mookie Wilson and Lenny Dykstra. Both contributed to the 1986 World Series victory immensely between Dykstra’s leadoff homerun against Oil Can Boyd, and well, we know about Wilson:

After that, we saw a bit of a dry spell with highlights like Lance Johnson, the late Darryl Hamilton, Jay Payton, and Mike Cameron. Then, we were blessed with Carlos Beltran. Say what you will about the Wainwright strikeout, in my opinion, he’s even money on making it into the Hall of Fame, and there’s a significant chance he goes in as a New York Met. Although with the way he was treated here by the fans, and mostly by the Wilpons, he’s probably going in as a Royal.

Now after Juan Lagares’ 2014 Gold Glove season and reasonable contract extension, we’re back to who should play CF. This is important because Lagares has a triple slash line of .254/.280/.333. Even if he was what he was defensively last year, this is unacceptable. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with his injured elbow. Regardless, CF is now a problem.

It should be noted his splits against LHP are .279/.338/.412. That is much better especially when you consider his defense. Add to the fact that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit .333/.400/.444 over the past two weeks (mostly against RHP), there is a real platoon here. Niewenhuis is a very capable CF, but he’s not in Lagares’ league defensively . . . then again who is?

With the Yoenis Cespedes acquisition, there have been some overtures that Curtis Granderson move to CF, a position he hasn’t played since 2012. This is dangerous because the Mets starting pitchers get more outs in the air than on the ground this year. Here are their respective ground ball percentages:

Matt Harvey 44.4%

Jacob deGrom 43.2%

Noah Syndergaard 45.9%

Jon Niese 54.6%

Bartolo Colon 39.9%

According, with the exception of maybe Niese, the Mets need their best defensive outfield out there are all times. This means Lagares must play as much as possible. Granderson and his good OF defense should stay in a corner OF spot where it will remain good defense. While Lagares isn’t hitting and Nieuwenhuis is, the platoon should remain in place.

While we all agree the Mets need to ride their pitching to the postseason, we should also agree that they need to put their best defense out there to help the pitching. Remember helping a pitcher is more than just scoring runs . . . it’s also about preventing runs with good defense. The only effect the Cespedes acquisition should have on the outfield configuration is to demote Michael Conforto to AAA and put Cespedes in LF, where he has played all year. I think that outfield alignment is the best there is that is ready to go out there and play.

Trades Mets Failed to Brew Up

As we sit here right now, we know the Mets have no chance to obtain Gerardo Parra and Carlos Gomez.  We know what the Gomez trade would have looked like, and I think the world has written enough about this trade.  I know I have.  What is interesting is that the Gomez deal is not the only deal the Mets failed to consummate with the Brewers.  Apparently, the Mets were also very close to obtaining Parra.  When the deal fell through, the Mets called-up Michael Conforto.

I do think Gerardo Parra would have been a nice fit on this Mets team, but since we have no information on what the deal looked like, it is hard to say if it would have been a good deal for the Mets.  What we do know is that Parra was sent to the Orioles for Zach Davies, who is the Orioles’ sixth best prospect according to Baseball America.  Baseball America did rank the Orioles as having the second worst farm system.  For his part, Keith Law did not have Davies in his Top 100 prospect list.

However, I will say that anytime you get a team’s top 10 prospect for a rental player, you’ve done a fine job.  Look, when the Mets were on the precipice of obtaining Gomez, they were giving up a future potential ace with a promising young bat.  I think the prices for the Brewers’ outfielders were understandably high.  Between the Parra deal falling apart and the Gomez deal being aborted at the last minute, the tension between the teams is so bad MLB feels the need to mediate.

It doesn’t matter anymore.  What matters is that there is two and a half hours before the trade deadline, and the Mets still need a SS, outfielder, and a LOOGY.  At the moment, it seems the Mets are just focused on one or two outfielders.  We now hear they are out on Jay Bruce and have moved on to Yoenis Cespedes and perhaps Rajai Davis.  I’m sure the cost will be too high for them, and I think if it is, the Mets will have to walk.  Remember this has become a mid-market team.  If you lose these prospects now, you don’t have reinforcements down the line.  They’re not adding payroll in the offseason.  I don’t know about you, but I think things look bleak right now, and it may look bleaker if a trade gets done (even if I am in the minority on that one).


Breastfeeding at Citi Field

The Mets are in a pennant chase with the first place Washington Nationals coming into town.  I know the last 36 hours have been rough between the blown trade and blown save, but the Mets are still in this thing . . . even if they do nothing else at the trade deadline. 

If you have a little one, it is a great time to bring them to their first Mets game.  The Mets will be throwing their stud muffins out there.  Citi Field should be electric.  This is a great opportunity to get your little one hooked on baseball.  However, when you go to the ballpark with little ones, you have to be extra prepared.

When we brought my son to his first Mets game, my wife tasked me with one responsibility.  I had to make sure there was a place to breastfeed our son.  Now, if you have $10,000 laying around, you can always get a suite at Citi Field and have all the privacy you want.  If you’re like me, that’s not an option, so I had to find a real solution.  If it couldn’t be done, we were not going to the game.  I love the Mets, but I wasn’t going to let my child starve for the better part of the day to watch the Mets get pummeled by the Nationals (they did lose 3-0 and it wasn’t that close).  

Now if you go the Mets’ website, there is nothing there about breastfeeding at Citi Field.  I was undeterred, and I did my research.  I visited every mommy site there was.  I was fairly confident I found the area where a mommy can breastfeed at Citi Field. We got tickets, and the whole family went to the game.  Unfortunately, the mommy websites were very wrong. 

I’m not going to link those websites because I do not want to embarass them because I’m sure they meant well.  They did, however, leave us in a lurch. We had to find a solution and fast.  We first went to the Nurses’ Station as instructed by the mommy blogs.  There was no room at the inn.  First of all, they cannot permit you to breastfeed in there if the rooms are full.  Secondly, they are not enthusiastic about allowing you back there because someone may need to come in and use the room.  That means your child will have to stop feeding immediately, and your wife will be exposed to the public.  Not exactly a recipe for marital bliss.  Now, I know there are family restrooms.  However, they are always locked, and you can never find someone who can open them.  Jimmy Hoffa can be in there for all I know. That eliminated the family restrooms.  We were at a loss, and we were on the verge of going home. 

With seconds remaining before going home, we stopped at Fan Assistance.  They were as baffled as we were about where in Citi Field you could breastfeed a child.  To their credit, they were very helpful.  They arranged for us to use a small ticket office in the Promenade section (not the ticket windows, it’s in the opposite side) to breastfeed.  An employee stood guard while my wife and I went in.  This is not the ideal situation, but at least we were in private. It was an acceptable solution. This prevented my wife from having to feed our son in public, and it permitted us to stay for the game.  It was also nice an employee stood outside making sure no one entered while we were in there. 

So my recommendation to you is if your wife is breastfeeding, immediately go to Fan Assistance once you enter the ballpark.  They will be very helpful.  If not, please advise them that you were able to breastfeed in the ticket office in the Promenade section before, and you wish to go there again.  It is the best of a series of bad choices.

As to the other issues a parent may have, Citi Field is accommodating for parents with infants.  Each and every restroom has a changing table.  They permit you to bring formula and bottles into the game.  If you do choose to bring formula, I suggest you might want to get the travel pouches of formula as security might have a problem bringing white powder into the stadium. You can bring bottled water into the park to mix the formula.  You can bring an umbrella stroller, which Fan Assistance will make you check with them.  

When you stop by Fan Assistance to check in your stroller make sure you ask for a certificate for your child’s first Mets game.  If you do, make sure you write very carefully and neatly otherwise you’ll have a misspelled name on your certificate like I do.  

Overall, if you are better prepared than I am, you can have a fun filled day at Citi Field.  In the end, it turned out to be a reasonably nice day, and my son was able to stay for all nine innings.  It looks like he was born a Mets fan just like his “Mets Daddy.”  If you go the game this weekend, I wish you the best of luck.  Have fun at Citi Field and Lets Go Mets!

Trivia Friday 

The failed Carlos Gomez deal is something we’re going to talk aboit for a long time especially now that Gomez was traded to the Astros. This week’s tongue in cheek quiz looks for the players who changed teams in the Mets-Brewers trade. Good luck!

Gomez is ASTROnomical Risk

As I wrote earlier, I don’t know who to believe in the Carlos Gomez trade fallout. After reflection and news of the trade to Houston, I’m surprisingly finding myself believing the Mets. 

I know I’m shocked too. If you’ve read my prior thoughts on the Mets ability to add payroll, you know I’m firmly in the Jerry Crasnick Camp that the Mets can’t do it. However, in my opinion, Carlos Gomez wasn’t adding salary to this team because of Bartolo Colon expiring contract. 

One reason I believe the Mets here is their team doctor is David W. Altchek, MD. He is the preeminent Sports Medicne doctor in the country. If he truly said there was a hip issue, there was a hip issue. If you don’t agree with me or believe the Mets (which I understand on both counts), keep in mind:

  1. Gomez had an MRI on his hip earlier this year, 
  2. Gomez said he’s afraid to run because of his hip, and 
  3. Gomez is having a down year

In the prior two seasons, Gomez was named to the All Star Game. He averaged a .284 average and 24 homeruns. This year?  He’s afraid to run and his triple slash line is .262/.328/.423. His OPS+ the previous two years was 128 and 129. This year it’s 105. This is a precipitous drop. He went from an All Star caliber player to an average player who complains of hip issues. Normally, I would say you could have a down year, but there are too many red flags to believe that. 

I presume the Mets saw the medical reports from the doctors and were left with two options: 1) call it off, or 2) try to salvage it. It’s possible they believed asking the Astros for money in the deal was a way of insulating themselves from risk. They might’ve thought if Gomez is healthy, great. If not, we have the money to get someone else. It’s also possible the financial rumors were made up to salvage Gomez’s value so the Brewers could trade him to someone else. 

We know the Astros had no problem with Gomez’s medicals. As Sandy Alderson correctly said, “[i]t’s simple, our doctors thought the health risk was too great; Houston’s doctors apparently felt otherwise.”  It could be that simple. Doctors disagree all the time. That’s why we get second opinions

Therefore, I don’t think the Mets necessarily owe everyone an explanation. There shouldn’t be any beat writers taking a victory lap as if they were a member of the Brewers’ front office (especially when he reported Gomez’s hip issues). The Mets gave us an explanation, and they might’ve avoided a huge mistake.

I wish Carlos Gomez the best of luck. He may be hurt; he may not be. All I know is Zack Wheeler is too high a price to risk.